The National Career Clusters® Framework - Advance CTE


In December 2022, Advance CTE launched its initiative to modernize the National Career Clusters Framework. The Framework provides a guide for organizing and delivering quality career and technical education (CTE) through learning and comprehensive programs of study.

This work is led by two national partners—Indigo Education Company and WestEd—and is supported by a National Advisory Committee, Industry Advisory Groups, and other avenues to receive input from professionals involved in delivering and experiencing CTE and the Framework.

In June 2024, Advance CTE announced the Framework has been updated to:

  • Make the Framework more learner-centered and industry-responsive
  • Reflect major shifts in the labor market by recognizing changes in work and the emergence of new industries
  • Provide learners with more personalized paths to living-wage jobs
  • Add stronger career exploration and advising models for educators, while developing language on career readiness that can act as a bridge between industry and education.

In June and July 2024, the initiative has been seeking feedback on the draft framework.  The group issued a June 2024 Promotional Toolkit to ensure a transparent and inclusive process that gathers input from across the entire CTE field and industry.


After the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Act (Perkins III) in 1999, the then Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) in the U.S. Department of Education released 16 career clusters as a new typology to organize CTE programs.

In 2001, OVAE released a national request for a proposal (RFP) for support in the development of a curriculum framework and administration for these career clusters. Advance CTE in collaboration with the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education were awarded a grant to develop a uniform framework for the 16 career clusters. Through this grant, Advance CTE worked with many stakeholders to pilot and scale career cluster implementation structures and establish knowledge and skills statements.

In 2012, Advance CTE held a kickoff event to unveil the National Career Clusters® Framework. It included Common Career Technical Core standards with performance elements, knowledge and skills statements, plans of study and a curriculum frame for each career cluster.

There continue to be 16 career clusters in the National Career Clusters Framework. They represent 79 Career Pathways to help learners navigate their way to greater success in college and career. The framework also functions as a guide in developing programs of study that bridge secondary and postsecondary systems and for creating individual student plans of study for a range of career options. The intent of these resources is to help learners discover their interests and empower them to choose educational pathway that can lead to success in high school, college, and career.

The Framework is used in some form by all 50 states and territories to organize CTE programs at the state and local levels.


Advancing the Framework page

Advancing the Framework Career Clusters Modernization Initiative

The National Career Clusters® Framework Resources 


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